Themes in the JTR Victims Series
(Although this list is rather dry reading, imagine they are not just themes in a set of novels, but aspects of a reality that had an impact on the lives of real people)
Women’s issues and how they evolved in Victorian England
1)Women as the property of their husbands, having to obey, with little or no recourse against physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.
2)The slow evolution of these issues in Victorian England.
3)The worth of a woman in society having much to do with the worth of the man to whom she is wed.
4)The relative worth to society and employers of single middle-aged women with no family ties.
Poverty and social conscience
1)The relief system—the workhouses, out-relief, casual wards, and infirmaries.
2)Opinions based on social Darwinism that helped maintain a class system. The oppression and suppression of those of a lower station in a class system.
3)The various approaches of the innumerable beggars in the streets.
4)The use of child labor.
5)Scavengers of Victorian London, such as bone grubbers, toshers, pure finders, and mudlarks.
6)The struggle for survival in a time of societal change, great advances in technology, and a rapidly changing economy.
The industrial revolution and unemployment
1)The advantage employers had over workers with high-unemployment during the industrial revolution: low wages, abusive practices.
3) Piece work for manufacturers, such as finishing articles of clothing, making small items, adhering labels, or whatever small factory work a laborer might take home to be done in spare time or by children in the evenings. The term “piece work” comes from the fact that the worker is paid by the completed piece.
4)The dangers of the workplace in a society with few industrial and employment safety regulations: exposure to poisonous chemicals, powered equipment, and the stresses of highly repetitive labor over long work shifts with little variety.
1)The availability of drink (considered by many in that time another form of food).
2)Alcohol used to treat water to make it potable. Such water is given to children even at a very early age.
3)The use of alcohol to dampen feeling and the escape intoxication provides.
4)The bargaining alcoholics do with themselves as the disease creates ever more physical and social difficulties for the sufferer.
5)The availability of opium in various forms for children and adults.
The evolution of education for the children of the poor—the slow introduction of mandatory education.
Who engaged in prostitution and why the practice could seem attractive—see all categories above.
Alan M. Clark’s Jack the Ripper Victims Series is comprised of five novels, one for each of the canonical victims of the murderer. These stories are not only meant to appeal to those interested in the horror that was the Autumn of Terror, but also those interested in the struggles of women in the 19th century. They are well-researched, fictional dramatic stories meant to help readers walk in the shoes of the victims and give a sense of the world as each of the women may have experienced it. The timelines for the stories run mostly concurrently, so it doesn’t matter in what order the books in the series are read. They are simultaneously drama, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, and horror. They are novels concerning horror that happened.
A Brutal Chill in August
The First Victim of Jack the Ripper
by Alan M. Clark
Genre: Crime Horror
Print Length: 348 pages
Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: December 7, 2019
We all know about Jack the Ripper, the serial murderer who terrorized Whitechapel and confounded police in 1888, but how much do we really know about his victims?
Pursued by one demon into the clutches of another, the ordinary life of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols is made extraordinary by horrible, inhuman circumstance. Jack the Ripper’s first victim comes to life in this sensitive and intimate fictionalized portrait, from humble beginnings, to building a family with an abusive husband, her escape into poverty and the workhouse, alcoholism, and finally abandoned on the streets of London where the Whitechapel Murderer found her.
With A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark gives readers an uncompromising and terrifying look at the nearly forgotten human story behind one of the most sensational crimes in history. This is horror that happened.
Apologies to the Cat’s Meat Man
The Second Victim of Jack the Ripper
Print Length: 158 pages
Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: June 9, 2017
This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.
Annie Chapman led a hard, lower-class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps readers understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time
Say Anything But Your Prayers
The Third Victim of Jack the Ripper
Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: June 11, 2017
This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.
An imaginative reconstruction of the life of Elizabeth Stride, the third victim of Jack the Ripper. The beast of poverty and disease had stalked Elizabeth all her life, waiting for the right moment to take her down. To survive, she listened to the two extremes within herself–Bess, the innocent child of hope, and Liza, the cynical, hardbitten opportunist. While Bess paints rosy pictures of what lies ahead and Liza warns of dangers everywhere, the beast, in the guise of a man offering something better, circles ever closer.
Of Thimble and Threat
The Fourth Victim of Jack the Ripper
Print Length: 168 pages
Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: September 28, 2017
In Victorian London, the greatest city of the richest country in the world, the industrial revolution has created a world of decadence and prosperity, but also one of unimaginable squalor and suffering. Filth, decay, danger, sorrow, and death are ever-present in the streets. Catherine Eddowes is found murdered gruesomely in the city’s East End. When the police make their report, the only indicators of her life are the possessions carried on her person, likely everything she owned in the world. In Of Thimble and Threat, Alan M. Clark tells the heartbreaking story of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, explaining the origin and acquisition of the items found with her at the time of her death, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood, motherhood, her descent into alcoholism, and finally her death. Of Thimble and Threat is a story of the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart.
The Prostitute’s Price
The Fifth Victim of Jack the Ripper
Print Length: 342 pages
Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
A novel that beats back our assumptions about the time of Jack the Ripper. Not the grim story of an unfortunate drunken prostitute killed before her time, but one of a young woman alive with all the emotional complexity of women today. Running from a man wanting her to pay for her crimes against his brother, Mary Jane Kelly must recover a valuable hidden necklace and sell it to gain the funds to leave London and start over elsewhere. Driven by powerful, if at times conflicting emotion, she runs the dystopian labyrinth of the East End, and tries to sneak past the deadly menace that bars her exit.
Although THE PROSTITUTE’S PRICE is a standalone tale, and part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, it is also a companion story to the novel, THE ASSASSIN’S COIN, by John Linwood Grant. The gain a broader experience of each novel, read both.
About the Author
Author and illustrator, Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His awards include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of seventeen books, including twelve novels, a couple of novellas, four collections of fiction, some of them lavishly illustrated, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. Mr Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audiobooks, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. www.alanmclark.com Visit his blog: https://ifdpublishing.com/blog
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Out Now—Moonstone by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #reverseharem #rh #whychoose #ku #kindleunlimited
Do you love reverse harem romances? Love Christmas books? Then check out Moonstone!
Moonstone is a standalone contemporary reverse harem romance, which is part of the Jewels Café series—all of which can be read as standalones.
Christmas gifts aren’t the only surprises Ginny is going to get this year.
Moonstone Guinevere ‘Ginny’ Miles is in Silver Springs visiting her parents for the holidays. They moved to the town five years ago, and adore their new life here. Used to the hustle and bustle of London, England, Ginny isn’t convinced at first—what’s so great about a small town in Upstate New York, anyway? Despite her own opinions, it’s clear to Ginny the move has done her parents the world of good—they look years younger. There’s clearly something magical about this town.
Following some exploration of her own, Ginny discovers Silver Springs has its charms—Jewels Cafe is amazing, for starters, as is its pumpkin spice latte. Ginny’s drunk a lot of lattes in her thirty-three years, but nothing quite like this.
Her taste buds are still tingling from the tasty treat when she comes across a broken-down truck on the way back to her parents’ place. And when she spots the three gorgeous guys with the vehicle, it’s not just her taste buds that are tingling.
Is Ginny’s vacation in Silver Springs about to get a whole lot more interesting?
Buy now or read in Kindle Unlimited: http://books2read.com/moonstoneJC
Add to your Goodreads shelves: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48280273-moonstone
Moonstone Guinevere Miles—known as Ginny to people who didn’t want to incur her fierce and everlasting wrath—heaved her suitcase off the luggage reclaim belt with an “Oof!” and placed it on the floor, a sigh of relief escaping her. At least the thing had wheels—she didn’t really have the energy for carrying a heavy suitcase all the way through Customs and out to Arrivals. The long, tiring flight had seen to that. No matter how much she tried, no matter how exhausted she was, she simply could not fall asleep on a plane. Ever. Eye mask, ear plugs, meditation, bloody whale music—nothing helped. She’d long since resigned herself to staying awake while snores from other passengers emanated around the cabin. At least it had only been about seven and a half hours since taking off from Heathrow—she couldn’t imagine what state she’d be in if she ever flew any longer than that—to Australia, New Zealand or somewhere.
Doubtful that would ever happen, though. It had taken long enough for her to get her backside out to the east coast of America, where her parents had been running a retreat since retiring five years ago. But then, things were different now, weren’t they? Which was why she was even here in the first place—it wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
Thinking of her parents brought an inevitable smile to her face, and inserted a little more spring in her step. Despite the energy and mood suck that had been the flight, she was excited to be here. She was eager to see her parents, and to find out exactly what they’d built up over the last five years. She’d seen photos and videos, but it wasn’t the same as actually being there.
When they’d first announced they were using their retirement nest egg to open a retreat in Upstate New York, she’d been floored. Who the hell retires, only to take on a massive project like that? Surely the whole point of retiring is to wind down, enjoy some free time, relax? But no, her mum and dad—who, to be fair, had never been what one would call conventional—had set their hearts on it. They’d had a huge purge of their belongings, sold their cars and house, and jetted off across the pond, leaving Ginny shocked and not a little bereft. She’d been so used to having them close by and had quickly realized just how much she’d taken that for granted.
At the same time, her own career had taken off and she’d become so busy that her parents’ sudden distance hadn’t made the blindest bit of difference. She barely saw the inside of her own flat, never mind her friends and family. This was the first Christmas she’d had off work since then, too, and she was looking forward to spending it with her parents more than she could put into words. They’d been big on the festive period ever since she was a baby, and as such, Ginny’s brain was stuffed full of warm, fuzzy memories of Christmases past. They’d been useful to get her through the last five crappy ones, too, where a microwaved ready meal was the best she could hope for, if she hadn’t managed to wangle a free meal from the place she’d been working at at the time.
Her smile widened, and she walked faster still—God, just how big was this bloody airport?—desperate to see her mum and dad and start the Christmas holiday with a bang. Anticipation rushed through her. They’d have turkey and roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, mounds of vegetables, desserts laden with enough calories to last them until Valentine’s Day, Christmas carols, amazing decorations, a beautiful tree, fairy lights…
And Santa Claus. Two of them, in fact, jumping up and down enthusiastically and waving wildly at her, with not a rotund belly in sight.
Ginny was so excited, she couldn’t even be bothered with the embarrassment she might have felt at being greeted in a public place by her parents dressed up in Santa outfits. Plus, nobody knew her here anyway, so who cared?
She scurried around the barrier, almost flipping her case in her haste to turn a corner, then covered the remaining distance between them in seconds flat and released the handle of her suitcase. A series of squeals and exclamations went up—from all three of them—and then everything went dark as Ginny was enveloped in a warm, fluffy embrace, her face crushed up against what she suspected was the white fur trim on her mother’s jacket, and kisses rained down on her. It was all she could do to suck in oxygen as she was squeezed and squeezed them right back. She was assailed by the scents of clean clothes, shampoo, perfume, and cologne—all perfectly lovely smells by themselves, but somewhat overwhelming all at once. Unintelligible murmurings reached her ears, but she didn’t bother to reply since she had no idea what was being said. And she didn’t need words, anyway. All she needed at that moment in time was to soak up the enormous outpouring of love she was experiencing.
She was so bloody happy, she thought she might pop.
Eventually, her parents loosened their hold enough so she could step back and actually look at them. She took in her father’s handsome face, his steel-gray hair—or what she could see beneath the hat, at least—his wide grin, and her mother’s long, light gray, waist-length plaits, the glint in her eyes and the glow of her skin.
“Guys, you look fantastic! If this is what retirement does for you, I think I might sign up now.”
Her mother, Deborah, gave a nonchalant shrug—which, given her attire, was way more amusing than it should have been. “What can I say, sweetheart? I feel fantastic. I’ve got so much more energy than I ever had in London, even when I was much younger.” She shrugged again. “It’s the retreat, I’m sure of it—the moment your father and I first set foot there all those years ago, I felt there was something magical about it. Silver Springs is the most wonderful little town, and we’re lucky enough to live and work in the most spectacular part of it—though it hardly feels like work.”
Ginny gave her mother a kiss on the cheek, then turned to her father, Charlie. “And you, Dad? You look twenty years younger, but how do you feel?”
His face took on a beatific expression. “The same as your mother, kiddo. Exactly the same. If I’d known just how wonderful it would be, I’d have thrown in the towel and moved out here years ago. Decades, even.” He grabbed the handle of Ginny’s case in one hand, then looped the other around her neck and pulled her in to drop a kiss on her chin-length blonde hair, which he then ruffled. “I’m so thrilled you’re here, Moony. You’re going to love it in Silver Springs. Just love it! Come on, let’s get going. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us, and the weather’s on the turn.”
Ginny bit back comments on both his use of her childhood nickname, and his messing up of her hair. She didn’t want to dampen the almost euphoric mood that seemed to float between the three of them—a combination of being pleased to see each other, and her parents’ obvious appreciation of their new home. Though five years was hardly new anymore, was it? She really should have visited before now, but the circumstances had been impossible. Now they weren’t, and she was here, in the bosom of her family, at Christmas time, and it was going to be magical.
And, at some point, she’d enlighten her parents about the fact she had nothing in particular to rush home for, either. But that could wait. No need to burst the happy, everything-is-perfect bubble just yet. She’d let them all enjoy their first Christmas together in years before thinking about that.
They made their way out of the airport building. The cold air slapped Ginny in the face, momentarily taking her breath. Her slight gasp drew her mother’s keen eye. “I hope you listened to me, sweetheart, and brought warm clothes with you. It’s even colder up in Silver Springs, you know.”
“The car’s not far,” her dad piped up. “I’ll get the heating on as soon as we’re inside, and we’ll soon have you snug as a bug in a rug.” He tipped her a wink, and warmth flooded her veins. She hadn’t realized until now just how much she’d missed her wacky yet lovable parents. They might be unconventional, but they’d given her a wonderful childhood. When she’d reached adulthood, they’d remained incredibly close, with them managing to achieve the perfect balance of loving and supportive without being controlling. They’d let her forge her own path, make her own mistakes, and had been there to help pick up the pieces without uttering so much as a “I told you so.”
They’d definitely earned this idyllic new life they’d carved out for themselves, and she couldn’t wait to experience it for herself, if only for a little while. Though she wasn’t sure how much fun there was to be had in the back end of beyond. It was hardly going to be lively. Perhaps it was a good thing she was only here for an extended holiday.
Buy now or read in Kindle Unlimited: http://books2read.com/moonstoneJC
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Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter
Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.
Welcome to Jo Elizabeth Pinto
I was born in Chicago in 1971 and grew up in Brighton, Colorado. I was part of the first generation of disabled students who integrated the public schools in the late 1970’s. In 1992, I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley with a degree in Human Services. While helping disabled students learn how to use adaptive computer technology, I earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Organization Management. Blind since birth, I am currently self-employed as a braille textbook proofreader.
As an author, I know the importance of entertaining my readers while also giving them food for thought. Whether I write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, I draw inspiration from my own experiences with the ultimate intention of showing my audience that hope is always just an action away.
I live in Colorado with my husband and my daughter, my yellow Labrador guide dog Anlyn, two cats named Sam-I-Am and Andy, and a parakeet called Rocket. In my free time, I enjoy baking, growing flowers, and listening to music.
I’m an author, as I’ve wanted to be since I first figured out as a little girl that words could be written down in books and enjoyed over and over again. But I’m also a freelance braille proofreader, mostly for clients across the country who produce textbooks that will be used by blind children in kindergarten through high school, and a few random college students and library patrons now and then. I’m a wife and mother, a daughter, a friend.
What that means in practical terms is, I write in bits and pieces. Sometimes I get up and write in the dead of night when the house is quiet. Sometimes I write for ten minutes while the spaghetti bubbles on the stove and my daughter works out a long division problem at the kitchen table. Sometimes I shove work aside, switch off my conscience, and write for an entire morning with undone dishes piled up in the sink because I’ll explode if the characters don’t get themselves out of my head and into the world.
My writing space is a beat-up old computer desk in the corner of my dining room. When my daughter was little, she plastered the lower drawers and cupboards of the desk with colorful stickers. The upper cabinets are hung with bead necklaces, old track meet ribbons, and other childhood trinkets. When I lived alone, I was organized to a fault. But having a family has taken care of that problem. My desk is always cluttered, often with random items that, for the most part, don’t even belong to me.
My computer is fitted with text-to-speech (screen-reading) software that repeats the words I type and allows me to listen to emails and navigate the Internet. Using that software, I’ve written and self-published two books. The first, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” is a novel about a group of kids from the projects and how their lives change because of mentoring. The second, released this last July, is a nonfiction book about my adventures as the blind mom of a sighted daughter.
My daughter is delighted to have been featured in a book, but she isn’t quite old enough to understand the point the stories about the two of us are trying to make. Her dad is a staunch supporter of my writing. He owns a watch and clock repair shop, and I’ve sold many books locally out of his store.
Working from home, writing and running a business, raising a child—it can all be overwhelming at times. The lifestyle works for me, especially because I found a sustainable way to make money as a freelance proofreader and be home when my daughter is. I would recommend my chosen crafts, with a caveat or two. First, a person has to be a self-starter. When you take up writing or work from home, there won’t be anyone standing over your shoulder, nagging you to improve. There will be a million things waiting to take up your time, and writing takes hours, weeks, and years of practice. Those who persist, prevail. And second, join a group of like-minded people—real live people are best, but online is okay if necessary. Writers need other writers to support them, challenge them, and keep them writing.
Please check out my author Website, where you can find many relevant links:
“The Bright Side of Darkness” is my award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.
The paperback version of my novel is available at Barnes & Noble here:
Please see my author page on Facebook here:
Please see my author blog, “Looking on the Bright Side,” on Goodreads here:
Please see my Bookbub profile here:
To read guest posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:
To read guest posts on a variety of topics, please click here:
Might Have Been – Tales and Retales
only 5.99 for all 17 stories!
From retellings of classic fairy tales to legends and lore told around the hearth, this collection presents stories of wonder and fantasy—some straight up and others with a twist.
Children’s tales from Serbia and Russia feature water spirits and household sprites, knight princes and giants, whirlwinds and the Golden Horde.
An unusual visit to Wonderland follows Alice as she encounters the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and Humpty Dumpty under horror’s shadow. The secrets of a most infamous castle, Burg Frankenstein, deliver up ghosts.
While a trio of sexy gender-swap tales yield Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast with spice.
Romeo and Juliet—and vampires, the Three Little Pigs as you’ve never seen them, Cinderella embracing witchcraft…these are the Might Have Been, folklore, granny tales, and fairy tales turned upside down or glimpsed darkly in the mirror.
*Not all stories suitable for kids.
- Fairy Tale Fatesby Leah Cutter
- The Charming Trilogy Vol. 1 by Kristine Grayson
- The Legends of Castle Frankenstein by DeAnna Knippling
- Snow Truer Loveby AJ Tipton
- Brick Houses (Uncollected Anthology: Fairy Tales) by Annie Reed
- The Return of Alice by Robert Jeschonek
- Into the Forest Shadows by J.A. Marlow
- Handsome and the Beast by AJ Tipton
- THE RUSSIAN STORY BOOK – 12 Illustrated Children’s Stories from Mother Russia by Richard Wilson
- Tales of Old Giralliyaby J.M. Ney-Grimm
- R+J Sucks, vol 1 by Ann Hunter
- Hunting Red by AJ Tipton
- Lost: Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries (Book 1)by Ron Vitale
- Return to Wonderland by Tanya Lisle
- Fairy Tales Revisited on Silvery Earthby Barbara G.Tarn
- Redd’s Hoodie by Karen C. Klein
- HERO TALES AND LEGENDS OF THE SERBIANS – over 80 Serbian tales and legends by Woislav M. Petrovitch
Dark Tales and Twisted Verses
A Fire-Side Tales Collection
Available in e-book, coming soon in print.
Dark tales of ghosts of war, blood from the Autumn of Terror, the wrath of nature, an unusual murder and a cynical vampire. Twisted poetry of loss and mayhem.
Some adult themes and language.
The Secret of Blossom Rise – A Ghost Story
The Watcher – A Tale of Jack the Ripper
The Last Forest – A Tale of the Wrath of Nature
The Last Dance – An Autumnal Flash Fiction
The Sleeper – A Yoyo Murder
So Many Nights, So Many Sins – A Vampire’s Tale
We Must Remember
Giving It All
End of Days
The Glass-Eyed Monster
Author name: L. L. Thomsen
*Please tell us about your publications.
I write character-led high medieval fantasy with a good slash of epic. I am working on a series titled, The Missing Shield – originally one large book that has been split into 11 episodes in order to make the workload more manageable. The 8th book (titled: All in a Day’s Work) is out now, and I am currently working on book 9. What you get in my books is lots of flawed characters that you may not feel quite sure about in the beginning. There’s magic, mystery, darkness, crime, plots, romance, backstabbing, manoeuvring, different races, and an end-of-the-world kinda deadline & quest. I enjoy painting an immersive picture of the world I write about, so expect lots of depth and world-building. I try not to hold back and I try to write as close to real life as I can get. I also wanted to write something a little different from the mainstream so the story has quite the lyrical slant, but it is written with an adult/mature market in mind. This is not YA.
What first prompted you to publish your work? To begin with I wasn’t really sure that I would publish. I started writing my high fantasy book as I somehow got inspired – but it was always just something I considered a pastime whilst the kids were babies and I was at home anyway. Then I realised that I was getting more and more passionate about the job and I felt that I ought to publish at the end of the day because I wanted to share my work with an audience and I wanted to award myself by proving that I could complete the process.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Going it alone. Everything was a learning curve. Particularly when it came to figuring out the Amazon instructions and uploading my manuscript. Formatting is not as straight forward as I always imagined it to be. Furthermore, once you’re on the other side, and have successfully published your book, I cannot believe how difficult it is to get anyone to even look your way. I guess I never really got the ‘build yourself a social media following’ – I’m a little too private and old school.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Be tenacious! I knew it would not be easy, but I gave up on finding myself an agent way too soon and in return, it left me literally on my own with the whole load. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a freedom in being your own boss and maybe that’s partly why I went my own way so soon, but having said that, I think there’s lots to be said for getting yourself aligned with someone who’s on your side, has your best interest at heart and who knows the business: where to go, how to do it, and when.
If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I’d love to treat my character Solancei to a meal – she’s in for a bumpy ride and I think she deserves some TLC. I’d also love to quiz her about everything that happens and the world she lives in. I know a lot (wink – of course) but there are always secrets! I think we’d have pizza and wine, and I’d try and stop her from killing me for writing her such a hard, complicated destiny.
Sort these into order of importance:
For me there is no question of ranking these in order. They are each an integral part of the book you write and I feel that the author should pay equal attention to each. Since I write fantasy – and epic at that – I’m very much for world building because that’s a must for the genre, but that in itself is nothing if it’s not backed by the other three. What’s a good plot with flat/un-inspiring characters and vice versa? A technically perfect book is what we all strive for (as in a professional end-product) but I do believe that the interpretation of ‘perfection’ may vary depending on who you ask. Also, it may be technically perfect, but what good is that if the readers cannot engage with the story or the characters. It’s the snake that bites its own tail. It must come full circle.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I research as and when. It may be just a small thing like the components of a saddle or the belief system of various ethnic groups. I try and keep it factually correct even though I write fantasy – this means that even if the herb is made up, I’ll still look up how to brew tinctures for headaches, for example – or I might watch a YouTube video on sword fights. The most extreme I’ve looked up will probably be stuff to do with injuries and the effects of various weapons/conditions.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? I think it’s hugely influential but maybe not through the original media anymore. I do feel that we love a good tale, whether it be a story is reported in the papers, or how TV channels adapt historical events to create entertainment. We are always looking for something to catch and hold our interest – particularly after the rise of social media – and stories speak to us. They help us feel part of society and may sometimes even give us a sense of belonging too.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Keep at it. Keep growing and developing.
What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t write your story like that – write it like this.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Maybe a phoenix. I like the idea that you can rise from the ashes and be reborn. That you can try again.
Tell us about your latest piece? Around 6 weeks ago I released my 8th book in The Missing Shield series. It carries on from number 7, where one of my main characters – the rather naive and slightly annoying Princess Iambre – has decided to try and locate her missing friend and bodyguard despite her security chief and beau having told her that she must take heed and leave it to them. In book 8 she finds herself alone and lost after a string of unfortunate events almost killed her and worse – but as luck would have it, she finds the very place she’d been looking for. She wants to attend a clandestine meeting that might shed light upon her missing friend and now follows a series on incidents that has the Princess quaking in her boots. Nevertheless she is reunited with certain other characters only to learn some devastating news. However, before she can process this, she and her group are betrayed and they must flee or fall into the very hands of the enemy they are investigating and fear.
Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?
I’ve found that indies are very much considered ‘the second-hand citizen’ of the author world. It’s unfair but I guess that the indie route has given rise to many poorly executed books – and unfortunately people remember the bad ones far longer than the good ones. I’ve talked to readers who do not consider indie books ‘real’ works of writing. Fortunately, there are also those who have delved into the fray and have found gold, so swings and roundabouts. The common reason that readers list for not wanting indie works are: poorly formatted, bad grammar, no edits or badly edited, homemade, cheap covers, poor storylines, rip off storylines, over-priced, they should be free…
I think it worth mentioning that it’s not always because the indie books are not worthy that they have not been traditionally published. Agents are very fickle with what they are looking for (and rightly so). In 9:10 times you need an agent to approach a publishing house, so it does mean that some decent manuscripts may be overlooked because the agent may feel that they are in the market for ‘something else’. It cannot be helped, but readers rarely see that side of the industry.
Armed with a love of fantasy, a slightly geeky mindset, and an unleashed wild muse, L. L. began the new journey into writing relatively late in life but was inspired by her long-repressed urges to write ‘something’ – and once she began, she never looked back.
“I regret I took so long to find my ‘calling’. The truth is that when you have an idea it just has to be set free,” she says, adding, “My somewhat unorthodox approach to style and flow has been a way for me to test my personal, individual voice. It’s a fluid thing, however. In the future, it might alter to match the shape of new projects.”
Linda currently lives in the UK, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two kids, a cats and one dog. As with her writing, she approaches life with a nod to the saying: ‘fear nothing, respect everything’. She enjoys horse riding, sci-fi movies, travelling, reading fantasy (but not exclusively), Pilates, and has a strange fascination with swords.
Her first published fantasy novel, ‘A Change of Rules’, kick-starts the 11 ‘episodes’ of The Missing Shield – a new adult high fantasy series, with a touch of mystery, intrigue, romance and darkness. ‘The Missing Shield’ is the forerunner to ‘The Veil Keepers Quest’ series.
Brothels and Prostitutes by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby
Brothels and prostitution feature in the opening of my new book Never the Twain. Men have used prostitutes since time began. There is even one mentioned in that very famous book The Bible!
Prostitution has always been a way for women to support themselves when all other means of earning a living have been exhausted. Very few women would have chosen this path had another option been open to them. In Never the Twain identical twins April and May find themselves in the unenviable predicament of being sold into prostitution.
Never the Twain is set in 1890 a time when it is easy to forget that women had very few rights. Women were considered chattel and on marriage were passed from their father’s care to that of their husband. Women like April and May, the protagonists in Never the Twain, had no male protectors and so had to make their own way in the world. April and May, through no fault of their own, are sold into prostitution so their actress mother can be rid of them. The acting profession in Victorian times was regarded as only a step away from prostitution and so it is easy to see why the twins’ mother would place them in the care of a Madam.
Educated women were still rare and middle class educated women rarer still. Had they been impoverished vicars’ daughters they would have found it relatively easy to get positions as governesses or companions. However, without a letter of reference they would have struggled to gain respectable employment. The twins could have taken work in domestic service or shop work but April and May would have found such work low paid and demeaning. Without means or protection their options would have been limited and falling into the poverty trap was a risk to avoid at all costs; once you lost the roof over your head there was no social security to fall back on. Once their “mother” died April and May were very much on their own.
Each twin had a different solution to their dilemma but ultimately the solution they agreed upon led to dire consequences. April knew that although they were educated it would be difficult to find respectable positions though she was willing to try. However, she allowed her twin to convince her to enter the brothel as a way of buying time – they were assured they would be untouched until their eighteenth birthday. It was a decision they would both come to regret.
Every port and harbour had their fair share of prostitutes. In seafaring towns prostitution was especially rife. Men who had been at sea for months had needs and a range of options were available for them to choose from when they were back ashore depending on their tastes and budget. From tuppeny streetwalkers to those who worked the inns, taverns and bawdy houses. And then there were the higher class brothels such as the one in Never the Twain, Mrs Jansen’s establishment where the higher ranks of the seafaring community, as well as the local gentry, were catered for.
In Victorian times gentlemen of rank often married for reasons other than love. The aristocracy, and increasingly the newly emerging merchant classes, often married to improve their finances and position in society. They married to join two influential families together or to gain the dowry of an heiress. Couples often married to unite two prominent families where one provided a title and the other party supplied the money. These misalliances often resulted in some gentlemen seeking their pleasures elsewhere especially once their wives had produced an “heir and a spare”.
For some, using “high class” brothels as opposed to regular bawdy houses offered ‘respectability’ as the brothels were often well-appointed almost like a gentlemen’s club. The girls were also thought to be cleaner and accomplished in the art of seduction. However, I found from my research, that some gentlemen liked “a bit of rough” too on occasions and would purposely seek out women of the lower orders as something different, a thrill!
The Victorian period saw the rise of a new class; the middle or mercantile class. “New Money” was made from newly emerging industries and manufacturing. The industrial revolution made enterprising men rich. My male protagonists Edward and Alistair Driscoll would have been part of this growth of the Nouveau Riche. Their fortunes had been made in the past from the slave trade and from importing tobacco from the New World – in this instance from Virginia. Now they were dealing in imports and exports and were adding to their fortunes.
Mrs Jansen boasted that her whores were “free from disease” and “practised in the arts of seduction”, something most men of position would appreciate. Men like Captain Edward Driscoll – being from new money – would have been the mainstay of Velda Jansen’s provincial brothel. In a port such as Whitby where a whore could be bought cheaply by any passing sailor, Mrs Jansen’s brothel would have been the epitome of class – if you weren’t from London that is. Anything which could attract her more wealthy clients would have been a boon for the avaricious Madam. So when beautiful, identical twin virgins were offered to her she saw the guinea signs flash before her eyes. She knew a marketable commodity when she saw it and here were two beauties ready for the plucking.
Sometimes prostitutes are portrayed as being happy with their lot or “the tart with a heart” but the reality was seldom so straightforward or agreeable. The girls were effectively slaves and the Madams ruthless. You can probably guess what would happen to one of Mrs Jansen’s “clean girls” if she became infected by a punter or when she lost her looks. Her only choice would be to walk the streets for business. As a result her life span would be considerably shortened. A girl would put up with a lot to keep herself from plying her trade in the dangerous ginnels and inns of Whitby so whatever the punter wanted the punter invariably got. The Madams would turn a blind eye to most things, even if this meant the girls were brutalised. So long as the gentleman did not spoil a girl’s face – the Madams would not be pleased if one of their precious girls were to be disfigured. Very occasionally a girl would get “lucky” and a punter would pay for her sole use or set her up in her own establishment as his mistress. Rarer still was the gentleman who married a whore.
In Never the Twain I wanted to show how devastating it would be for two relatively well brought up, educated young girls like April and May to find themselves in this frightening and dangerous situation. The twins, had they been ‘launched’, would have been sold to the highest bidder and thereafter used and abused day and night until their beauty faded. Such an end for the girls who were only valued for their beauty and bodies would have been shameful. In Never the Twain we see April and May struggle to survive the brothel but their lives soon become marred by jealousy and greed, betrayal and murder.
Never the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.
The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.
Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.
But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?
April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?
Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.
Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!
Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.
When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.
Author Name: Judith Starkston
- *Please tell us about your publications.
I’m the author of three books of historical fantasy based on the Bronze Age Hittites—an empire of the ancient Near East nearly buried by the sands of time. My books take “a quarter turn to the fantastic,” to borrow Guy Gavriel Kay’s phrase, and give full expression to the magical religious beliefs of these historical people. My first book, Hand of Fire, is set in the Trojan War and told from a woman’s viewpoint, Briseis, Achilles’ captive. Currently, I’m writing a historical fantasy series based on a Hittite queen. The first book in that series Priestess of Ishana is available FREE Oct 2-6. The second book, Sorcery in Alpara, launches Oct 14.
- What first prompted you to publish your work?
When I was researching my first book and figuring out the Trojans, I made a startling side discovery—a queen I’d never heard of who ruled for decades over an empire I’d barely heard of, despite my training and degrees as a classicist. It was the Hittite empire, of which, it turns out, Troy was a part. The queen was Puduhepa (whom I call Tesha in my fiction–the Hittite word for “dream” because she had visionary dreams). I’m particularly interested in the theme of women as leaders, so I was hooked. The Hittite empire could be called the forgotten empire, but fortunately, recent archaeology and the decipherment and translation of many thousands of clay tablets have filled in parts of the lost history. We now have many Hittite letters, prayers, judicial decrees, treaties, religious rites and a variety of other documents, but overall our knowledge still has huge gaps in it. I use shifted names in my series, such as Hitolia for the Hittite empire, to cue my readers to how much I have to fill in imaginatively from those fragmentary records. It also gives fair warning to the magic that I give free rein to, the rules of which derive from Hittite practices, but I do let the story go where a good story should and that means a lot of fantasy. It was that juicy primary source material, an extraordinary female ruler, and an intriguing ancient world that prompted me to write Priestess of Ishana and Sorcery in Alpara.
- Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
I outline my novels in a couple different ways before I start writing, but those outlines are subject to change whenever the story and characters take me into new realms I hadn’t imagined at the start.
I use a couple approaches to outlining and organizing my manuscripts. One is very character/theme/pacing driven, Libbie Hawker’s book Take Your Pants Off. The other, very plot and pacing driven, is a storyboarding technique that means I’ve got each of my books laid out on a three-sided board like we used for our school science projects. It’s explained in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. You’ll notice in both the word “pacing.” I found as I learned the craft that pacing was both the hardest part to get right and the most essential. If readers aren’t compulsively drawn through my story, it doesn’t matter how beautiful my writing is and all the rest (though I work hard to get all that nailed). A good story is hard to put down—that’s something we all intuitively know. The corollary is that if a story is hard to get through, it isn’t very good!
- What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?
Write at least a little bit every day and give yourself permission to write “bad words.” What do I mean by that? Just write and don’t worry whether it’s crap or not. Later you can go back and edit or trash if need be. I find that it is often the days when I think I’m writing the worst that I discover on later read, I’ve written some of my best. And you can only fix words that are actually on the page.
- If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.
I’ve never gotten over my fascination with Achilles in the Iliad. He’s maybe legendary rather than literary, but I’d like to sit down and listen to him (probably admire his physique also…). He’d probably want lamb roasted on spits spiced with garlic and cumin, and I love that also, so I’ll go with that. Some fresh flatbread right off the hot stones to go along with it!
- What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?
I’m using this technique—offering free my first book in the series, Priestess of Ishana, from Oct 2-6. I’m doing it right before the second book comes out, so I’ll see buy through and get paid that way. I think it’s a viable marketing strategy. I don’t think reaching new readers is demeaning. It’s what you do as an author, and putting books into people’s hands seems like a good thing overall. If I was expected to give away books for free all the time, that would be silly. But accessing a lot of new readers I wouldn’t have any other way? That sounds smart to me. So do download a copy of Priestess of Ishana, and then if you really enjoy it, buy Sorcery in Alpara.
- What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?
I spread the word when I get a particularly strong review, especially from someone I really respect. When someone writes a bad review, I see no reason to react one way or the other, certainly not comment on it. I let my fiction, my author notes, all the background material on my website speak for itself when someone has a wrongheaded idea in a review. Reality has a way of coming through over time, so I don’t sweat it. If someone points out a perceptive way to improve in a review, I go to work in my next book and make sure I fix that. I’m happy to learn from all sources.
- How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
I have gone deep into the research, both the book/reading part (years of that) and the travel. I’ve gone to the archaeological sites, landscapes, and museum collections in Turkey that are the source material for my world-building. I contact the dig directors and museum curators so that I can talk with them and learn first-hand from the people who really know. I spent a whole day at the site that we think was Tesha’s hometown that I call Lawaza, but was called Lawazantiya by the Hittites. It’s the archaeological site of Tatarli near the city of Adana in Turkey. The key reason they think it’s her hometown is that the dig mound (with Bronze Age ruins of the right kind) is surrounded by seven springs. The Hittite records from the capital of the empire describe this town as having seven springs. The dig director took me to each of the springs–one of them appears in a key scene in Priestess of Ishana and I could never have gotten the atmospherics of that scene right if I hadn’t been there. One of the wildest subjects I’ve run across is the Hittite magical rite to remove a curse that I use in Priestess of Ishana. It involves chickpeas. Who knew that the way to get the demons out was via garbanzo beans? The Hittites were obsessed with curses and they believed sorcerers caused all kinds of evil with them. If you had to remove a curse from someone, you baked a loaf of bread with chickpea paste in the middle (basically humus) so that when you touched the bread to the cursed body while saying the right spell, the paste would absorb the pollution. I couldn’t make up this stuff in a million years, but the Hittite culture hands it to me. I just have to write it into compelling page-turners.
- If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?
I’m having a lot of fun writing griffins into my series, so I’ll choose that mythical creature to be. It turned out, much to my surprise as I wrote, that griffins, or at least the ones in my books, have a very dry sense of humor. And they are wickedly good warriors and can soar into the heavens, and yet they have a big soft spot for their cubs who are allowed to climb all over the grownups, so I suspect hanging out as a griffin for a while could be very entertaining.
- What is your writing space like?
I’m very lucky and have a big window in front of my workspace that looks out on my garden. I write on a lovely inlaid wooden writing table with a comfortable armchair. So I’m all set to keep my butt in that seat for a good stretch every day.
- Is there a message in your books?
My fictional Tesha, based on the historic Queen Puduhepa, provides a worthy model for leadership—particularly the value of female leaders, which we’ve been thinking about lately, so this seems timely. She certainly wasn’t perfect, and some of her actions are hotly debated among historians as possibly self-serving or politically motivated rather than ethically driven. She gave me nuanced material to work into my hero’s character. But, despite that human complexity, or perhaps because of it, she had brilliant skills as queen in many areas: diplomatic, judicial, religious and familial. Most famously, she corralled Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt into a lasting peace treaty. The surviving letters to Ramses reveal a subtle diplomat with a tough but gracious core that made her able to stand up to the arrogant Pharaoh without giving offense. She also took judicial positions that went against her own citizens when the truth wasn’t on their side. Fair justice wasn’t something she was willing to toss overboard when it was politically inconvenient. Her equal partnership with her husband was a much-admired model even in the patriarchal world of the ancient Near East. I’m enjoying working in these themes from a real woman into my historical fantasy series, one book at a time.
- How important is writing to you?
I love the long hours at my desk spent lost in the world that I write and in the company of my characters. I enjoy it every day. It’s my fulltime occupation.
Newsletter sign up (for a free short story and book deals): https://www.judithstarkston.com/sign-up-for-my-author-newsletter-for-books-news-special-offers-and-freebies/
Priestess of Ishana https://amzn.to/2DXpdXt
Sorcery in Alpara https://amzn.to/319vuIj
Hand of Fire https://amzn.to/2KOb6a0
Judith Starkston has spent too much time reading about and exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution: to write historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award.